Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Category — Temptations

Fifth sermon on the Lord’s Prayer

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt 6:13)

“And lead us not into temptation.” In explanation of this phrase in the Latin Word we are in various places told that it is according to the appearance that man is led into temptation by the Lord, but in reality the Lord leads no one into temptation, this being done by the hells.

Concerning these words we read: “It was granted me to have a perception of angelic ideas about these words in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ Temptation and evil were rejected by the nearest good spirits, by a certain idea perceptible within me, and this until what is purely angelic, namely, Good, remained, without any idea of temptation and evil; the literal sense thus perishing altogether. In the first rejection innumerable ideas were formed respecting this good – how good may come from man’s affliction while the affliction still is from man and his evils in which there is punishment, – and this with a kind of indignation adjoined with it that it should be thought that temptation and its evil come from any other source, and that anyone should have any thought of evil in thinking of the Lord” (A.C. 1875)

Temptations are according to man’s love, and the severity of the temptation is according to the greatness of the love. A temptation is a trial of the love. If a man has only natural loves, he can only undergo natural trials or temptations: if a man has spiritual loves, he undergoes spiritual temptations. The Lord, because He had a Divine Love of the salvation of the human race, underwent the most grievous temptation of all.

Much is said in the Word about temptation, and its use, namely, that without temptation man cannot be regenerated, nor can the love of self and the world be overcome, nor can the external be made obedient to the internal The sign of the victory in temptation is that man no longer despises others in comparison with himself, but considers himself as unworthy, and regards others as more worthy than himself.

We read: “Some suppose that man can be regenerated without temptation, and some that he can be regenerated when ho has undergone one temptation; but it is to be known that no one is regenerated without temptation, and that many temptations succeed one after another. The reason is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die, and that new life which is celestial may be insinuated; from which it may be evident that a combat is absolutely necessary.” (A.C. 8403.)

If temptations ere so necessary why are we told to pray not to be led into temptation? But before considering this question, let us consider what is the sign that a temptation is a spiritual temptation, for there are many natural trials which appear as if they were spiritual. A temptation is always e loss or an apparent loss of what we hold dear. The most severe natural temptations are due to the loss of those we hold dear, such as family and friends whom we love, a loss either by death, or by the breaking of a friendship, or by disappointment in perceiving that those whom we love have turned towards evil, or have turned against us. Spiritual temptations have to do with the Lord, His Word and the Church, but temptations in regard to the Lord and the Church, which appear spiritual on account of the subject, may be only natural To illustrates Many love their Church personally, because it is their Church, and they have been brought up in it; they love it as a natural msn loves his country, namely, because it is his; thus the love of the Church has its origin in self, whether he has been brought up in it or whether he has adopted it. Such a one suffers when the Church suffers, and he suffers particularly if the Church in which he is treats him harshly or persecutes him, but this is only a natural temptation. Again, many love the Lord because He is their God, thus personally. If such find their love of the Lord or their faith growing weak, or if the Lord appears to be unmerciful towards them, they suffer, but this is a natural and not a spiritual temptation.

It is only those who love the Lord, His Word, and His Church spiritually, that is, not primarily as to person or in relation to oneself, that can undergo spiritual temptations. That are the signs of such a love?

Read the full fifth sermon on the Lord’s Prayer by the Rev. Theodore Pitcairn